|The sound of Japanese Taiko drums welcomed everyone to Parkinson Recreation Centre Sunday for |
the 2012 Taste of Japan fundraiser.
The beat of Taiko drummers was hypnotic and drew hundreds into the 2012 Taste of Japan fundraiser for the Kelowna-Kasugai Sister City Association.
"We always have the drumming at the first part of the event because they just catch everybody's attention," explained association president Cathy Jennens. "And then we have a children's choir, a fashion show, demonstrations by the judo club and a tea ceremony."
This year, the association is hosting five Japanese citizens who flew to Kelowna specifically for the Taste of Japan to demonstrate a traditional tea ceremony and furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping gifts with a cloth which is then left at the home of the gift recipient.
"You don't see wrapping paper all over the place. There are different ways to fold the cloth," she said.
The association, which promotes cultural and business exchanges, was established 31 years ago, before many of those involved on Sunday were born.
This year, Grade 10 students from Rutland Senior Secondary, who established a formal relationship with a high school in Kasugai, dressed up as popular Japanese cartoon characters.
"It's nice because we are now involving the young. We have a lot of people helping out. Of course, some of them were babies when the sister-city relationship started," said Jennens, who joined the association in 1995 and has been to Japan four times.
"For example, my son, Jeff, is going to be teaching Japanese lessons at Parkinson (Recreation Centre) because he lived over there for a year. So the next generation now is continuing this relationship. My kids grew up belonging in the association and now my grandchildren are out there watching the drumming."
Taste of Japan replaced a series of smaller fundraising events, such as garage sales, she noted.
"About four years ago, we found something that fit our association, that tells what we are all about: we're here to share the culture. We've got ikebana or flower arranging, very old and very traditional. We're sharing our food. And we've had gifts donated for raffles," said Jennens.
The three-hour event also had demonstrations of calligraphy and origami, a bake sale and samples of Japanese cuisine from Komatsu Japanese Market. Last year's event raised nearly $2,000.
"It's an inexpensive event for the whole family, $2 each to get in. A few people have said it's not enough. We keep it that way because we just want you here. We want little children; we want everybody to come," said Jennens.
It was held at the Water Street Senior Centre for the first three years but last year's crowd proved too large.
The centre has now been closed and seniors have moved to a new activity centre adjacent to Parkinson Recreation Centre.
"We outgrew it last year; it was just jam-packed. And we were saying: 'Holy mackerel, this is great; we've got loads of parking here (at Parkinson). Well, we don't," said Jennens who heard people experienced a challenge finding an empty space in the Parkinson lot.
To learn more about the sister-city association, go online to: